The film Symphony of Science – Our Biggest Challenge (Climate Change Music Video), illustrated that climate refers to the average weather pattern of a planet or region over time. Its key components are temperature and precipitation.
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Furthermore, climate of any particular location is affected by latitude, terrain, surface cover, and ocean temperatures. The climate system as a whole is driven primarily by gradients in solar radiation. The resulting temperature gradient creates a pole-ward transfer of energy, via wind and ocean currents, and shapes the global climate (Melodysheep 2012).
As per the film, the mechanism works like this: Intense sunlight warms the air above the equator, making the air molecules move faster and causing the air mass to expand. As a result, the air over the equator becomes less dense and exerts less pressure on the air columns that surrounds it.
air moves from areas of high to low pressure, the pressure gradient associated with the differential heating of the Earth leads to horizontal movements of air. This air movement, called atmospheric circulation, carries heat energy from the tropics to the poles and is a primary component of global climate (Melodysheep 2012).
The film illustrated that atmospheric circulation also helps drive circulation of the oceans. Together the atmospheric circulation and the oceans help determine temperature, precipitation patterns, and wind variability, which make up what we experience as the weather. However, changes in average temperature alter these basic cycles, causing weather patterns to change.
Global climate is also determined by the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the mechanism by which heat energy from the sun is trapped by the Earth’s gaseous atmosphere. Short-wave radiation from the sun is trapped by the Earth’s gaseous atmosphere.
Short-wave radiation from the sun easily penetrates the Earth’s atmosphere, warming the planet. Long-wave radiation emitted by the warmed Earth, however, is unable to pass back through the atmosphere. This trapped radiation warms the Earth’s climate, making it roughly 33oC warmer than it would be without the atmosphere.
The presence of certain trace gases in the Earth’s atmosphere produces the greenhouse effect. Molecules of these “greenhouse gases” gain kinetic energy when they absorb long wave radiation. This additional kinetic energy is then passed on to other molecules, inducing a broad heating of the air. Water vapor (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are the most plentiful greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are present in very small quantities in the atmosphere.
The film further illustrated that elemental carbon is a fundamental building block of life on Earth. It is an essential element in all living things and is spread in vast quantities throughout the Earth’s system. However, the term carbon cycle is given to the natural progress of carbon among these reservoirs. The comprehensive carbon resource is the balance of all these transfers together.
The cycling of carbon through different reservoirs allows the Earth to maintain a natural carbon balance. When concentrations of carbon dioxide are upset- for instance, after a volcanic eruption- the system is able to gradually return to its natural state.
In global climate change, the anthropogenic introduction of vast quantities of carbon, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, has disrupted the carbon cycle.
Since change in climate is the biggest challenge in the world we must all come together in order to deal with this issue.
Symphony of Science – Our Biggest Challenge (Climate Change Music Video). Melodysheep. Youtube, 2012. Film.